Base Camp Wine and Spirits in Frisco is a new kind of bottle shop
Base Camp Wine and Spirits
Where: 223 Lusher Ct., Frisco (next to Whole Foods)
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Beyond the bottles
When Base Camp opened for business, the owners wanted it to stand out from run-of-the-mill liquor stores with a slew of unorthodox offerings. Take a tour:
Bomber room — A sprawling walk-in refrigerator stocked with up to 200 different bombers (typically 22-ounce bottles) from across the world, including nearly a dozen hard ciders and experimental brews from New Belgium Brewing’s Lips of Faith series. It’s easily one of the largest bomber selections in the High Country, ranging from $4 to $30 per bottle.
“Pick 6” bottles — Don’t want a full six-pack of raspberry-ginger saison? Few people do. The “pick 6” section at Base Camp boasts 110 craft, domestic and malt liquor bottles (think Mike’s Hard Lemonade) to mix and match at will. That’s roughly 300 million possible combinations for a flat rate of $9.98 per six-pack. Not too shabby. Tasting bar — Found next to the bomber room, the custom-made tasting bar plays host to wine, beer and spirits events every Friday and Saturday (4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) during the ski season. And the in-house sommeliers don’t hold back: Valentine’s Day featured premium champagne from Korbel and Veuve Clicquot, all for free.
Not all bottle shops are created equal.
Yet for Ryan Geller, co-owner of Base Camp Wine and Spirits in Frisco, breaking into the wild world of High Country beer and spirits doesn’t mean he’ll turn up his nose at Jim Beam or Svedka or Mike’s Hard Lemonade. As a consummate lover of all libations, he simply wants to offer just about everything — from six-packs of Bud to a 2001 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Bordeaux for $2,400 — at a better price, in a better environment and with better service.
“What we’ve been taught and learned is that everything on these shelves is great,” says Geller, a longtime player in the national wine and beer industry who worked for Guinness and Gran Marnier before setting up shop in Summit County. “People can find these products anywhere if they want to, but we don’t just want this to be a place to visit and leave right away. I’m like a kid in a candy store — well, it’s a liquor store, but I have a smile on my face every day I come to work.”
On Christmas Eve, Geller and business partner Shevy Rashidi opened Base Camp in a coveted space between Whole Foods and Epic Mountain Sports in Frisco’s newest commercial development. The brand-new, never-been-touched location gave the partners an opportunity to build their vision from the ground up, literally, beginning with the space itself.
Base Camp is one of the first environmentally friendly bottle shops in Summit, with stripped-down climate control, digital price tags across the store and recycled wine shelves from one of Geller’s industry friends.
Over the course of three months, Rashidi’s local contracting company — the same contractor used for his other local food and beverage ventures, including Quandary Grille and Taddeo’s Italian Restaurant — took the owners’ environmental wishes and made them a reality.
“These things that were going to the landfill are now getting a second life,” Geller says. “We wanted to go one step further. We live in this environment, we want to do our part to give back, and that’s something we wanted from the start.”
A TASTE OF THE BEST
After the Earth-friendly groundwork was laid, Geller and Rashidi set their sights on the shelves. The owners started by hiring two wine and spirits experts, including general manager Josh Vander Meer, to lead weekly tastings at the in-house tasting bar, crafted from (what else?) recycled wood. It even sits beneath a set of doors from
The free Friday and Saturday tastings are Geller’s first tactic to bring people into the shop for longer than it takes to browse the beer case. On Valentine’s Day, the three-hour event drew nearly 100 people for samples of Korbel and Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label champagne.
It was a stellar showing for the inaugural event and Geller hopes word of mouth will bring even more curious libation lovers to Base Camp. The store recently partnered with Whole Foods to launch a small business program under the Whole Planet Foundation umbrella.
Dubbed Microbrews for Micro Loans, the Base Camp program is working with its first partner brewery, Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing Company, to host another tasting and educational session this Friday and Saturday.
“So many people want you to go to a liquor store, shop and then leave,” Geller says. “But we want people to explore everything we have. It’s about being part of the community — we want people to have as much fun as we do.”
SPIRITS FOR ALL
Geller admits beer and wine are always hot products in the High Country, but as a consummate whiskey lover, he’s happy to see bourbons, ryes and even moonshines are finding a new niche.
“I have bottles that you’ll only get three or four a year,” Geller says. “These are very rare but fun bourbons, and when you add those to the ryes and the Colorado whiskeys, I can sit in that section all day and just geek out.”
Geller’s whiskey knowledge runs deep. When chatting with customers, he delves into the birth of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, a 15-year reserve bottle from Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, and tells stories about the volunteer bottling nights at Breckenridge Distillery.
But Geller and Rishidi aren’t solely whiskey connoisseurs. For the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships, they worked with Herradura to craft a custom, one-time-only barrel of reposado tequila, currently still on sale. They also worked with Patron for a similar custom barrel, and early next week, they’ll meet with Breckenridge Distillery to craft a signature whiskey.
As Base Camp expands its liquor selection with everything from custom barrels to affordable aperitifs, the owners hope curious locals will become dedicated customers. It’s built into the business plan: Rashidi’s pre-teen children are Geller’s primary partners. When they’re ready to take the helm, he hopes to pass along a thriving bottle shop unlike any other.
“It feels good to be open, in our inaugural year, but we’re excited for what happens next year or 10 years or 20 years from now,” Rashidi says. “Everything I’ve done here (in Summit) has been long-term and I want this to be no different.”
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